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Discover Tasmania's organic destinations


The Apple Shed – Smith Apple Orchard Tractor

Credit: The Apple Shed

Tasmania really is a special place to visit, particularly if you have a soft spot for local produce and stunning scenery. From the rugged, otherworldly beauty of Cradle Mountain to the azure beaches and hidden bays of Freycinet National Park to the peaks of Mount Wellington and the cultural hub of downtown Hobart, Tasmania is a treasure trove of natural beauty and places to explore. Packed with everything from rolling green farmlands to dense rainforests, rugged coastline and wetlands, this unassuming heart-shaped island state has a bit of it all.

The local organic industry in Tasmania is expanding at a steady pace largely due to consumer demand. With more known today than ever before about the effects synthetic chemicals can have on people’s health and the environment, many households consider it of prime importance to know where their food comes from and whether it is made in a responsible and sustainable way. This rise of responsible consumerism, with people focusing more and more on sourcing organic products and produce, is reflected in the increasing number of organic growers, manufacturers and distributors putting Tasmania on the map.

“If you look back 20 years, to find fresh Tasmanian organic produce you would need to visit Salamanca Market once a week or be lucky enough to personally know one of the few organic farmers somewhere near you,” says Rex Williams, president of Tasmania Organic Producers (TOP) and a certified organic farmer. “Sure, there were a few retailers who stocked some packaged organic food, but very little was Tasmanian. In 2015 things have certainly changed: a whole range of Tasmanian organic products is now available from small and large retailers alike. Consumer demand is a powerful thing.”

“Tasmania is a pocket of cool-climate excellence when it comes to food production, particularly with apples, berries, cherries, beef, cheese and wine.”

According to the Tasmanian Government’s Department of Agriculture, there are about a dozen large organic enterprises currently operating in Tasmania, but most function in small-scale operations where lifestyle, health and wellbeing play a large part in the reason growers and producers are involved in organics.

Organic farming is working in harmony with nature, not against it. Farming organically is not just about steering clear of produce grown and processed with synthetic chemicals, fertilisers or GMOs, but also harnessing the benefits of natural ecosystems and the local environment. Tasmania’s cool-climate environment means it is particularly well suited to growing certain plants and produce, not to mention maintaining organic farming practices. “Generally, Tasmania is a pocket of cool-climate excellence when it comes to food production, particularly with apples, berries, cherries, beef, cheese and wine,” says Williams.

The Tasmanian apple industry has long been the pride of the state; in fact, two of the largest organic apple orchards in Australia are based there. “This is because we have the ideal growing conditions for apples,” says Andrew Smith, owner and orchardist of organic apple farm William Smith & Sons. Tasmania’s chilly winter is an asset to growers, Smith says, as it makes it difficult for pests.

“It’s very beneficial for us to have four proper seasons as the cold winter really helps by making everything properly dormant due to the cold. Warmer climates provide more opportunities for bugs and diseases to hibernate in the trees or the ground, so when it warms up they are already established, which can cause damage quickly.”

Other than crisp and delicious varieties of organic apples, Tasmania is also renowned for its leatherwood honey, salmon, wild abalone, black truffles, extra-virgin olive oil and saffron. The local organic dairy and meat producers are also garnering attention (and many an accolade) for their quality free-range and organic produce.

The local organic dairy and meat producers are also garnering attention (and many an accolade) for their quality free-range and organic produce.

Tasmania’s “clean and green” reputation most definitely works in terms of promoting its sustainable and locally sourced food movement. The southerly state actually has the biggest acreage of organic farming per head of population in Australia. Even though Tassie’s organic industry is relatively small on a state-wide scale compared to other Australian regions, such as New South Wales and Queensland, it is developing quite a reputation as the destination for organic, farm-fresh produce and culinary specialties. Its size makes it more intimate in nature, allowing for a sense of community, unique appeal and quality control.

“There are so many smallholdings down here, and so many people who are passionate about growing the best possible produce they can with minimal interference from man, that you can really get to see things up close and personal,” says apple orchardist Andrew Smith. “We have so many farmers’ markets now that give producers a great outlet for their products. The really great thing about Tasmania, of course, is that five minutes from the centre of Hobart or Launceston you are out in the country, so people down here are really connected to the land.”

It would be fair to say that Tasmania has a central part to play in pioneering the organic industry in Australia, particularly in regard to specialty products. There’s the local pioneer of quinoa — Kindred Organics — as well as Bellamy’s Organic baby and food products and Marinova seaweed extracts, for example, plus many more. There are also numerous organic food and drink destinations, including cellar doors and farm visits, that travellers can experience while enjoying the local scenery.

What makes Tasmania different from other organic destinations in Australia is its compact accessibility, which allows you to explore a variety of diverse destinations, and its unique cool climate and natural environment. The sense of community and local growers’ passion for quality organic produce, as showcased in annual events such as A Taste of Tasmania, is what makes this island one to watch — and most certainly a place to visit.

Organic destinations

Callington Mill

Originally built in 1837, Callington Mill is Australia’s only operating Georgian Windmill. Locally grown wheat, spelt and rye are harvested in January and February each year and then milled to supply artisan flours to bakeries, restaurants and the public.

Callington Mill is located in Oatlands, a town with a population of 600 that is a unique destination in its own right. The historic original buildings in Oatlands have been reinvented and repurposed into galleries, cafes, boutiques and more, giving it a wonderful old-world feel. There is also a guided tour of the Callington Mill that entails a climb of the mill tower. The tours take place on the hour from 10am to 3pm daily.

1 Mill La, Oatlands
T: +61 3 6254 1212
E: tourism@southernmidlands.tas.gov.au
W: callingtonmill.com.au

The Apple Shed

The Smith family has been growing apples for four generations in Tasmania, since 1888, having converted to organic production in 1999. Now organic apples are their core business and they haven’t looked back, launching a growing range of organic ciders that began with the iconic Willie Smiths Organic Cider.

The Apple Shed provides a wonderful opportunity for visitors (or locals) to enjoy a cellar-door experience and a walk down memory lane. Home to an iconic apple museum, The Apple Shed, originally built in 1942, is the perfect spot to sample the full range of Willie Smiths ciders and peruse the old-time machinery displays and apple industry accoutrements. If you fancy a bite to eat or a jar of something delicious to take home, there’s also a cafe featuring regionally sourced products and produce.

2064 Huon Hwy, Grove
T: +61 3 6266 4345
E: appleshed@williesmiths.com.au
W: williesmiths.com.au

Stefano Lubiana Wines

Stefano Lubiana Wines is a certified biodynamic vineyard in Granton, just outside of Hobart. You can have a tasting of their lovely wines at the cellar door from Thursday to Monday, 11am to 4pm. They also have a restaurant that features fresh, seasonal, rustic Italian food sourced from their own biodynamically run vegetable Garden. Biodynamic cool-climate wine and garden-sourced Italian food equals pure heaven.

60 Rowbottoms Rd, Granton
T: 3 6263 7457
E: wine@slw.com.au
W: slw.com.au

Grandvewe Cheeses

Grandvewe Cheeses are certified by the Organic Growers of Australia (OGA). They offer cheese and wine tastings as well as sheep-milking demonstrations and viewing windows of the cheese factory and ageing room. There is a wide range of quality sheep’s milk cheeses and other assorted products on offer at this certified organic vineyard and cheesery set among beautiful green farmland with ocean views. If you like cheese, this is a great way to learn more about it and see organic methods in action.

59 Devlyns Rd, Middleton
T: +61 3 6267 4099
E: info@grandvewe.com
W: grandvewe.com.au

Brook Eden Vineyard

Brook Eden is a small, family-owned, sustainably managed vineyard and producer of cool-climate wines. Located about a half-hour north of Launceston, the vineyard has been managed organically since 2008. Although not officially certified, the Brook Eden owners use biodynamic soil preparations and plan to run the vineyard and farm as a biodynamic business. The cellar door offers tastings and sales of their award-winning wines. You can also enjoy a picnic with a glass of wine in the cottage garden.

167 Adams Rd, Lebrina
T: +61 3 6395 6244
W: brookeden.com.au

Herbaceous Tours

Herbaceous Tours offers a rare opportunity to go where the action is and actually meet Tasmanian farmers and vintners. Sally Legosz began the specialised tours to give travellers the opportunity to see where some of Tasmania’s best produce is made and to meet the passionate people making it.

Herbaceous Tours offers both public and private tours. The private tours allow travellers to meet farmers, makers and growers with scheduled visits to farms that would otherwise be off-limits to the public, such as Kelty Farm (organic, free-range meat), Weston Farm (Peony roses, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh farm produce) and Tas-Saff (pioneers in Tasmanian saffron).

T: +61 416 970 699
E: sally@herbaceoustours.com.au
W: herbaceoustours.com.au

Tas-Saff

Ever wondered where saffron threads actually come from? Tasmanian Saffron (Tas-Saff) is an Australian family-owned saffron business located in Glaziers Bay, in the state’s south. You can visit Tas-Saff by appointment or through a private tour to discover the process of growing award-winning Tasmanian saffron. Tas-Saff is a pioneer of the saffron industry and was the first business in Tasmania to successfully acclimatise Crocus sativus corms (bulbs) to the southern hemisphere conditions of Australia.

155 Dillons Hill Rd, Glaziers Bay
T: +61 3 6295 1921
E: tas-saff@bigpond.com.au
W: tas-saff.com.au

Kates Berry Farm

Kates Berry Farm is located on Tasmania’s picturesque east coast. All the berries are grown with organic foliar fertilisers and are free of any fungicides, pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Featuring gorgeous views across Great Oyster Bay, Kates Berry Farm has a range of cool-climate berries, jams, sauces and jellies, handcrafted chocolates as well as the popular Just Desserts Cafe — a must for sweet-tooths. It’s open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm seven days a week, 
closed on Christmas Day.

12 Addison St, Swansea
T: +61 3 62578 428
W: katesberryfarm.com

Flinders Island

Located on the 40-degree south parallel north of mainland Tasmania, Flinders Island is surrounded by deep-blue waters and filled with green salt-grass pastures and quality organic fare.

Self-sufficiency is a way of life on Flinders Island, so local produce is bountiful and beautiful, with many producers observing sustainable, organic and biodynamic methods of production. Home to Bryworth Farm Garlic, Flinders Island Olive Oil and The Lettuce Lady, this gourmet island is well worth a visit. To get there, you can either fly from Launceston across Bass Strait with Sharp Airlines or take a ferry from Launceston.

W: flindersislandfresh.com.au

Organic markets

The organic markets in Tasmania are a great way to peruse farm-fresh produce and specialty products, and to get to know the locals.

Harvest Market

This community farmers market is held every Saturday from 8.30am to 2.30pm at 71 Cimitiere Street, Launceston (in the carpark opposite Albert Hall).

Farm Gate Market

Farm Gate Market is held every Sunday from 8.30am to 1pm in Bathurst Street, Hobart.

Harvest Feast

Harvest Feast is held at Hobart’s Salamanca Markets (site 218–219) on Saturdays.

Organic shops

If you run out of your favourite organic product while is Tasmania, or are looking for an excuse to buy some more, there are plenty of delightful organic stores to investigate.

City Organics

A comprehensive eco-grocer and natural beauty store.

34 Criterion St, Hobart
T: +61 3 6231 1465
W: cityorganics.com.au

York Town Organics

Suppliers of baby salad leaves, herbs, root crops and berries.

120 Bowens Rd, York Town
T: +61 3 6383 4624
W: yorktownorganics.com

Eumarrah

Here, you’ll find a selection of nuts, pulses, fruits and vegetables.

39 Barrack St, Hobart
T: +61 3 6234 3229

ecoHaven

Eco-friendly, organic and Fairtrade shopping and a natural health clinic. ecoHaven also has a herbal and nutritional dispensary.

71 Murray St, Hobart
W: ecohaven.com.au

For further information, visit tasorganicdynamic.com.au.



 

Kate McKee

Kate McKee is a freelance writer and editor who is passionate about natural health and lifestyle. She enjoys writing for a variety of lifestyle publications on topics ranging from health and beauty to outdoor living and sustainable garden design.